Joystiq Weekly: Amplitude is funded, Wolfenstein review, video previews and more

Welcome to Joystiq Weekly, a "too long; didn't read" of each week's biggest stories, reviews and original content. Each category's top story is introduced with a reactionary gif, because moving pictures aren't just for The Daily Prophet.
Amplitude fans just discovered a new favorite month of the year, as Harmonix's Kickstarter for a Sony-exclusive continuation of the lane-changing rhythm game cleared its goal within the final day of its funding campaign. Regardless of the original Amplitude's quality, the button-tapper's fan base is pretty niche - if games catering to slivers of the broader gaming population can find the funding they need via Kickstarter, it makes us wonder what other dream sequels we could get away with.

There are always the down-and-out series begging for continuations like Shenmue 3, but that almost feels too obvious. What if we launched a Kickstarter for a team to continue an established property? We could start a campaign to glue the pieces of Wipeout developer SCE Studio Liverpool back together, then launch another to cover the resurrected studio's costs to make a new F-Zero! What's that you say? F-Zero is owned by Nintendo and is definitely not a property we can just give out to whoever we wish? Well, we can launch another Kickstarter to fund a protective shield until SCE finishes the game, and then Captain Falcon can finally get back on track with his career!

On second thought, maybe we shouldn't take swings at the legal beehive. We'll have to think our F-Zero revival strategy over, but until then, we've got the cliff notes from this week's news and content ready for you. Details about the Xbox One's June update, reviews for Transistor and Wolfenstein: The New Order and video previews for Driveclub and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Morder - it's all ready for you after the break!
  • Harmonix did rhythm games before the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series reached pop culture status, and now that the studio's Amplitude Kickstarter has cleared its funding goal, the team can delve back into its history. The campaign concluded with $844,127, which falls short of the $1.1 million needed for a head-to-head online multiplayer mode. Anamanaguchi, Freezepop and Danny Baranowsky are among the artists whose music will blast as players travel down freshly-paved lanes of note highways.
  • Ever load up Steam, browse through the store and close out because there's nothing new of interest to you? Well now that we're halfway through 2014, you've had just as many chances to find a new favorite as you did in the entirety of 2013, based on data tracking the amount of games added to the store. If this rate continues, Steam will add about 2,000 new games in 2014, which is a steep step up compared to 2013's 600 additions.
  • The Vita is down on its luck, it's true, but playing host to RPGs is certainly something it can do. In July, Ubisoft's Child of Light will shine anew, telling its dream-like fairy tale on Sony's portable device, too. Protagonist Aurora's watercolor fantasy supplies a pretty splendid view, one you can read about further in our review.
  • Thanks to the power of updates, fancy new consoles can turn into fancier, newer consoles! The Xbox One is no exception, with its June update adding support for up to two separate external storage devices, which can also be used for game installations. If you're sick of wondering who "xXxSw4gReap3rxXx" is, the update will also allow users to show real names to trusted members of their friends list. SmartGlass improvements are on the way as well, in the form of pin-reordering, notifications for Twtich broadcasts and an adjusted activity feed on the home screen.
  • If you use Steam for your gaming needs and are currently running a PC, you can now stream games from that PC to other PCs or non Windows-based computers over your network. Despite its current status, Steam's in-home streaming will eventually support hosting by Mac, Linux and SteamOS devices. Future plans to implement support for smart toasters has yet to be confirmed.
  • ZeniMax has stopped asking Oculus VR nicely for allegedly-stolen technology and has gotten the parents lawyers involved in the dispute. The related lawsuit claims that Oculus VR exploited ZeniMax's IP, code and the "technical know-how" for Oculus' VR-related technology. The suit adds that "valuable intellectual technology" that was given under a non-disclosure agreement was illegally used to create the Oculus Rift. Considering Oculus VR parent company Facebook isn't exactly strapped for cash, this will surely be a brief, polite exchange between the involved legal parties. Yes, definitely.
  • Eager to hunt down your friends in Evolve, Turtle Rock Studios' one-vs-many monster hunter? Publisher Take-Two has scheduled your search for alien game on October 21 for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Is that enough time to properly organize your friends into an cohesive, efficient squad of personified monster death? Maybe. Is it enough time for GameStop to offer exclusive pre-order incentives? It's hardly even a question anymore.
  • Minecraft developer Mojang hasn't meticulously crafted a towering version of the word "August," but that's the month the build-what-you-want simulator is coming to PS4, Xbox One and Vita. The $20 price tag returns, but game worlds will be a bit bigger than what was provided on last-generation hardware.
  • Metro series developer 4A Games will reintroduce the bleak world of Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light to us on the Xbox One, PS4 and PC, but it won't quite be the same experience with boosted visuals. Each game can be played in the style of the other - for instance, opting for the Survival mode in Metro: Last Light incorporates the other game's slower pace and challenging resource management, whereas using Spartan mode with Metro 2033 will tweak the initial outing's shooting and scavenging to make it feel more like Last Light. We're not sure there's going to be a Turn The Creepy Monsters Off Mode, though.

  • Wolfenstein: The New Order's alternate-dimension take on history dredges up the familiar what-if of the Nazi party persevering in World War 2. Editor-In-Chief Ludwig Kietzmann geared up to fight injustice, shotgun in each hand with a crown of stacked helmets presumably teetering atop his head. He found Wolfenstein's flow of combat to be "just off," with shooting feeling "funneled and one-note, composed of unimaginative weapons pitted against goose-steeping dimwits." Ludwig underlines Wolfenstein's mistaken belief of difficulty spikes serving as a tool to build tension, but he also notes a "jarring inconsistency of tone and cohesion" between its roaring spats of gunplay and the subdued, quiet moments spent in a hovel.
  • With Borderlands 2 now on the Vita, vault hunters can take their hunt for Pandora's top loot on the go. Senior Reporter Jess Conditt ground out a few levels in the port, growing to prefer the new, gyroscope-aided option of aiming over lining up headshots with a joystick. The Vita version isn't without problems though - Jess notes an occasional half-second delay between pressing the Vita's bumper and the in-game pull of a gun's trigger. Cumbersome touch-based melee and grenade commands placed on the back touchpad make for awkward cramping as well, but Jess wraps her thoughts with a reminder that this is still "a great game on a wonderful handheld device."
  • Supergiant Games booted up the public release of Transistor this week, letting fans wield the titular, sort-of sword as a crimson-haired singer named Red. Reviews Content Director Richard Mitchell guided Red's strikes through real-time and turn-based combat, finding the system to be "generally captivating," despite it becoming monotonous over time with the tactics it demands. Richard found the side-dish text offered in Transistor to often be more interesting than the main course, adding that he felt "confusion more than anything else" during one of Transistor's emotional heights. Still, Richard concludes that Transistor's unique world and combat are "enticing enough to draw you along, even if the story doesn't strike all of its intended chords."

Featured Content
  • There's a lot of mechanics in Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, but you can catch a glimpse of how they all come together in our video preview of the Lord of the Rings-flavored action RPG. Ludwig and Feature Content Director Xav De Matos explore protagonist Talion's thirst for revenge against Sauron's army and the tactics at his disposal to achieve that goal. They also consider which audiences would feel comfortable in Shadow of Mordor's style of battle, from casual hack-n-slash fans to calculated types that are proficient with building RPG characters.
  • We don't really have a shortage of racing games, but instead of championing another graphical showcase, Driveclub's thesis focuses on making a social affair out of the chase for a top lap time. Xav and Community Manager Anthony John Agnello discuss Driveclub's structure and goals in our video preview, as well as the content and micro transaction-based differences between its retail and free-on-PS+ versions.
  • If you're going to hunt Evolve's increasingly-dangerous brand of prey, you better have an arsenal and a group of friends that's up for conquering otherworldly game. Ludwig recently detailed four new hunter types from Turtle Rock Studios' team-based monster safari, finding a personal hunting buddy in Maggie's pet Trapjaw and an interesting set of skills in the cloak-and-revival-savvy sniper, Lazarus.
  • Earthbound is part of the Boss Fight Books series and certainly touches on the Super Nintendo's cult classic of an RPG, but it's not a full breakdown of the game's development or an examination of interesting localization stories. Contributing Editor Andrew Hayward spoke with author Ken Baumann about the book's narrative, which weaves threads from the game with Baumann's personal recollection of growing up around the game.
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order and Mario Kart 8 are tied together by the blue shell and all video games actually exist in the same universe, using the same timeline. What? You didn't know these absolute truths? Well then, you better listen to this week's Super Joystiq Podcast so that we can save you from any further embarrassing oversights in video game trivia! Ludwig, Xav and Anthony are joined by Contributing Editor Mike Suszek on this weeks show to talk Mario Kart 8, Wolfenstein, the co-operative Killzone: Shadow Fall expansion and Shadow of Mordor.
[Image: Harmonix]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.